Danielle Rowland, Astrophysics Intern

A summer job at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Danielle Rowland
Astronomy intern Danielle Rowland stands with a model of the Hubble Space Telescope at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

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This story is a selection from the February/March issue of Air & Space magazine

The Space Telescope Science Institute hosts a dozen undergraduates each summer for eight weeks at its Baltimore, Maryland facility, where they work with staff scientists and engineers.

The path: Rowland’s interest in astronomy started early, at age five. “One very distinct memory is reading in the astronomy section of a general science book that stars had different colors related to their different temperatures. As a five-year-old who always colored the sun yellow, my mind was blown!”

The internship: A fellow classmate attended the summer program in 2016 and urged Rowland to apply. “Every astronomer I had ever come across was a professor,” says Rowland. “I was interested in attending the summer program specifically to learn about other pathways within the career—to still be an astronomer, but not necessarily remain in academia. I met people within the institute who have yet to get their Ph.D., and they were still having a very lively career with even a bachelor’s.”

Her project: Each student works on a project in addition to attending twice-weekly seminars. Rowland worked on Satellites Around Galactic Analogs, a survey designed to characterize dwarf galaxies orbiting others, similar to the Milky Way, to determine “if our galaxy is unique or representative of other galaxy groupings in the larger universe.”

A highlight from the internship: “We got a tour of [Maryland’s Goddard Space Flight Center] where the James Webb Space Telescope was located. It was an inside look into the instrumentation and engineering aspects of everything that we work on.”

The future: Rowland has turned her summer project into her senior thesis and, after graduation in May, is headed to grad school.